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Activist, influencer Marley Dias speaks at annual MLK Breakfast

people gather in front of a statue
A large group gathers to watch a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington, on Jan. 16, 2023.
Andrew Harnik | AP 2023

The annual Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. Holiday Breakfast — hosted this year by General Mills and the United Negro College Fund — is in its 34th year. The event’s keynote speaker this year has only been alive for 19 of those years. Author, activist and influencer Marley Dias took the stage to talk about the importance of representation, community and action.

At age 11, Dias founded the 1,000 Black Girl Books initiative with the goal of increasing the number of books in school libraries with Black girls as a main character. Dias told the breakfast audience that the recent debate around banning books about Black, LGBTQ+ and other identities from school libraries has taken her mission to a new level.

Dias talked with University of St. Thomas History professor Yohuru Williams, who founded the school’s Racial Justice Initiative.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.    

Also featured in the audio is a reflection by the event’s committee chair, Courtney Andersen, who is vice president of supply chain at General Mills.